High levels of heavy metals found in illegal vapes confiscated from school children

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Following a recent investigation led by BBC News, vaping devices confiscated from school pupils at Baxter College have been discovered to contain high levels of lead, nickel and chromium.

The disposables were tested at The Inter Scientific Laboratory in Liverpool, where it was revealed that most of the 18 vapes analysed didn’t meet regulatory standards.

The results indicated that children using illegal vapes might be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead, and nine times the safe amount of nickel.

High levels of lead and nickel exposure can seriously damage and affect the central nervous system and hinder brain development, especially in younger children.

Some of the devices were even found to contain high levels of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both of which are abundant in cigarette smoke.

The metals discovered in the vapes have been revealed to come directly from the e-liquids, not from the heating element as originally suggested by the lab.

David Lawson, co-founder of The Inter Scientific Laboratory, said:

“I’ve been a biochemist for fifteen years and I’ve never seen vape products that contain any detectable levels of metal, let alone these levels.”

“None of these should be on the market – they break all the rules on permitted levels of metal. They are the worst set of results I’ve ever seen.”

Of the 18 vapes tested, two were imitations of brands considered the most popular on the UK market, accelerating concern as to the safety of illicit devices in the hands of children.

The tests also found compounds called carbonyls, which break down into harsh chemicals as found in cigarette smoke at ten times the expected level in legal vapes.

John Britton, epidemiology professor at the University of Nottingham said:

“The carbonyls are mildly carcinogenic and so with sustained use will increase the risk of cancer.

“But in legal products, the levels of all of these things are extremely low so the lifetime risk to the individual is extremely small.”

The UK government have currently invested three million in an effort to curb sales of illegal vapes, especially with regard to young people and school students.

This is to ensure that any e-cigarettes or e-liquids not registered with Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will be removed from shops to cut the number of children accessing
unregulated devices.

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